Zeno  of  Elea

                     Greek philosopher, born at Elea, about 490 B.C. At his birthplace Xenophanes
                     and Parmenides had established the metaphysical school of philosophy known
                     as the Eleatic School. The chief doctrine of the school was the oneness and
                     immutability of reality and the distrust of sense-knowledge which appears to
                     testify to the existence of multiplicity and change. Zeno's contribution to the
                     literature of the school consisted of a treatise, now lost, in which, according to
                     Plato, he argued indirectly against the reality of motion and the existence of the
                     manifold. There were, it seems, several discourses, in each of which he made a
                     supposition, or hypothesis, and then proceeded to show the absurd
                     consequences that would follow. This is now known as the method of indirect
                     proof, or reductio ad absurdum, and it appears to have been used first by Zeno.
                     Aristotle in his "Physics" has preserved the arguments by which Zeno tried to
                     prove that motion is only apparent, or that real motion is an absurdity. The
                     arguments are fallacious, because as Aristotle has no difficulty in showing, they
                     are founded on on false notions of motion and space. They are, however,
                     specious, and might well have puzzled an opponent in those days, before logic
                     had been developed into a science. They earned for Zeno the title of "the first
                     dialectician," and, because they seemed to be an unanswerable challenge to
                     those who relied on the verdict of the senses, they helped to prepare the way for
                     the skepticism of the Sophists. Besides, the method of indirect proof opened up
                     for the sophist new possibilities in the way of contentious argument, and was
                     very soon developed into a means of confuting an opponent. It is, consequently,
                     the forerunner of the Eristic method, or the method of strife.

                     William  Turner
                     Transcribed by Rick McCarty

                                       The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV
                                    Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company
                                    Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
                                 Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
                                 Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

The Catholic Encyclopedia:  NewAdvent.org